Fatty Cysts in Dogs

Fatty cysts in dogs, also known as sebaceous cysts, develop on the surface of the dog’s skin. The fatty cysts form due to the accumulation of sebum, secreted by the sebaceous glands. Fatty cysts can be prevented with a suitable diet and a proper hygiene.

Causes of Fatty Cysts Formation

Fatty cysts form when there is an excess of oils or sebum on the skin. Sebum is beneficial, as it keeps the skin lubricated and shiny, but when in excess, it may cause problems such as acne or cysts. The excess of sebum may be linked to a diet that contains too many fats. However, the fatty cysts may also develop due to a hormonal problem.

All dogs are exposed to developing fatty cysts, but there are some theories that claim these fatty cysts are genetic.

Symptoms of Fatty Cysts

Fatty cysts will be visible growths or lumps on the skin. These cysts rarely grow more than 5 cm in diameter. Some cysts are white or the color of the skin, while some may have a bluish hue. These cysts may occasionally release a white, thick substance.

Fatty cysts are more common on the neck, head or upper legs.

Detecting Fatty Cysts

A fine needle aspiration test can determine if the growth is indeed a fatty cyst. The vet will analyze the contents of the cyst and give a clear diagnosis.

Growths that look like fatty cysts may be mistaken for tumors, so a biopsy may also be performed to clarify the situation.

Treatment Options

The fatty cysts are not a health risk and will not be painful. These growths may disappear in time with no treatment whatsoever. The fatty cysts are less likely to develop into larger lumps and in very few cases they can turn into malignant tumors. To prevent complications, the vet will recommend a periodical checkup to make sure the cysts don’t develop further. If the fatty cysts grow at an alarming rate, this may be a sign it is a malignant tumor.

Even if fatty cysts require no treatment, if the fatty cyst is located in an area that creates discomfort in the dog (i.e. eye lids), the cysts may have to be surgically removed. The surgery is simple and will only require a local anesthesia. If possible, the vet will simply extract the contents of the fatty cyst.

After surgery, fatty cysts are less likely to grow back, but the dog should be monitored.

Preventing Fatty Cysts

Fatty cysts form due to an excess of sebum accumulated on the skin. The production of sebum may be controlled with a diet that contains only the necessary fats and nutrients.

A proper hygiene with regular bathing or removal of dirt and oils from the surface of the skin will also prevent the cysts from occurring. Use a moist sponge with a natural shampoo to remove the oils from the dog’s skin. This cleaning can be done on a daily basis.